On January 20, 2009, Barack Obama could become a criminal. He will succeed to the leadership of a murderous regime, taking control of a racketeering enterprise that is monumental in its reach and breathtaking in its unabashed openness. If he doesn’t promptly discontinue its criminal activities, he will become culpable.
He will inherit a global system of concentration camps in which an untold number of luckless men, women and children are being held without charge. He will take command of the illegal military occupation of two countries and an aggressive airborne bombing campaign that kills noncombatants knowingly and without hesitation. He will become party to contracts with companies of hired killers. He will assume leadership of a vast surveillance operation that intrudes on Americans without any legal process whatsoever. And he will find himself at the center of a conspiracy to obstruct the prosecution of his predecessor in office for these and other crimes.
As a lawyer, Obama knows that he bears the same liability as Bush if he doesn’t reverse the criminal policies that Bush will bequeath him. This honest and upright man must know that he is not ascending to a seat of honor but descending into a pit of corruption as he takes control of a criminal conspiracy that was once a government.
He has the power to reverse course, but does he have the resolve? He assumes an office that has been placed above the law by the Congress, and so he is assured of a free pass from the legislative branch if he decides to prolong the mischief. The crimes of Bush and Cheney were no secret, and Obama has promised to govern as if they had never been committed, putting the people who voted for him on notice that he has no plans to change course. All forces are arrayed to draw him into the web of evil that was constructed by his predecessors.
It would take an act of modest courage for Obama to announce that he won’t drop bombs on another foreigner or continue the imprisonment of another innocent or allow government agents to chuckle over another of your emails. And that’s what he must do to keep from becoming part of the racket. And if you’re disposed to agree with John McCain, that we must help the new president to succeed, it’s incumbent on you to urge him to repudiate the crimes of his predecessor. It’s no less than you would do for your own best friend if he were about to fall in with crooks.